Unlike the lackluster municipal election last year, the 2014 ballot is primed to be much more lively with plenty of high-profile federal and state offices on the ballot.
The headliner is the contest for the governor and lieutenant governor posts that’s already attracted more than a dozen Democrats trying to first defeat each other in the primary before getting the chance to unseat Gov. Tom Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley in the fall.
While governor is likely to be the race where the biggest bucks are spent, every seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is also on the ballot, including the six that serve a portion of Luzerne County. In 2012, four of the six had contested races.
Also, the Senate district that serves Lackawanna County — the 22nd — is the ballot. John Blake, D-Archbald, currently holds the seat. The 20th Senatorial District, which represents all or portions of multiple counties in the region, including Wyoming, is also on the ballot. That district is currently served by Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township.
In addition to Pennsylvania races on the ballot, every U.S. House seat will also be on the ballot including those held by U.S. Reps. Tom Marino, R-Lycoming Township, and Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic. While nobody has announced a challenge against Marino, two Republicans — Matthew Dietz of Wind Gap and Dr. David Moylan of South Manheim Township — have said they’ll run against Cartwright.
Jeff Brauer, a political science professor at Keystone College in LaPlume, said there were so many challengers two years ago because of a combination redistricting and some newer members of both the state House and U.S. House.
“The more entrenched someone gets in office, the harder it is to defeat them,” Brauer said. In the case of Cartwright, a freshmen congressman, Brauer said now’s the best chance to unseat him because the longer he’s in the harder it becomes.
Marino, who is in his second term, may still face a challenger because he too has been in office for a relatively short period and his district was slightly altered by redistricting. But Brauer said if someone is going to try to unseat him, they need to act soon.
“I think you need to start announcing now,” Brauer said. “There’s no such thing as announcing too early.”
He said the same is true for the state legislature seats and noted that eight Democrats looking to become the next governor have already announced as they jockey for fundraising and name recognition.
Only one challenger to a local state representative has announced to date: Wyoming County auditor Laura Dickson announced in August that she intends to seek the Democratic nomination for the state House seat now held by Rep. Karen Boback, R-Harveys Lake.
Because of legislative redistricting, two freshman state House members from Lackawanna County could face off in the Democratic Party primary next year.
Rep. Frank Farina, D-Jessup, has announced he will be running for the state House in the 112th District next year. It’s a seat currently held by fellow freshman and Democrat Kevin Haggerty, of Dunmore. Farina currently represents the 115th District, but because of redistricting, that district will be relocated to Monroe County next year. Much of the current 115th will be incorporated into portions of the 112th and 118th districts.
Brauer called last year’s election “dull” and said a lack of marquee races and a lack of money for most candidates are to blame. Without money to spend the result is a lack of TV ads, the professor said. And without those constant reminders, “sometimes voters forget there’s even an election.”